JAK2/STAT5 Pathway Mediates Prolactin-Induced Apoptosis of Lactotropes

Neuroendocrinology. 2019;108(2):84-97. doi: 10.1159/000494975. Epub 2018 Oct 30.


Prolactinomas are increasingly viewed as a "problem of signal transduction." Consequently, the identification of factors and signaling pathways that control lactotrope cell turnover is needed in order to encourage new therapeutic developments. We have previously shown that prolactin (PRL) acts as a proapoptotic and antiproliferative factor on lactotropes, maintaining anterior pituitary cell homeostasis, which contrasts with the classical antiapoptotic and/or proliferative actions exerted by PRL in most other target tissues. We aimed to investigate the PRLR-triggered signaling pathways mediating these nonclassical effects of PRL in the pituitary. Our results suggest that (i) the PRLR/Jak2/STAT5 pathway is constitutively active in GH3 cells and contributes to PRL-induced apoptosis by increasing the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, (ii) PRL inhibits ERK1/2 and Akt phosphorylation, thereby contributing to its proapoptotic effect, and (iii) the PI3K/Akt pathway participates in the PRL-mediated control of lactotrope proliferation. We hypothesize that the alteration of PRL actions in lactotrope homeostasis due to the dysregulation of any of the mechanisms of actions described above may contribute to the pathogenesis of prolactinomas.

Keywords: Akt; Apoptosis; Bax/Bcl-2; ERK; JAK/STAT5; Lactotrope; Prolactin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Female
  • Janus Kinase 2 / metabolism*
  • Lactotrophs / drug effects
  • Lactotrophs / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Prolactin / pharmacology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Prolactin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Prolactin / metabolism
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Receptors, Prolactin
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor
  • prolactin, Arg(129)-
  • Prolactin
  • Janus Kinase 2
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt